Monday, September 04, 2006

FBO: 'Did Lou Reed Punch a Squirrel?'

The best lyrics are lyrics that mystify. In Lou Reed's immortal, and unknown, 'Bottoming Out' from his Legendary Hearts album from 1983, the singing character has problems. Rather than beating up a significant other, he takes off to punish the asphalt with his motorcycle tread. At one curve, drunk, disaster strikes.

Lou sings:

'I'm cruising fast on a motorcycle down this winding country road... And I pass the gravel on the foot of the hill where last week I fell off... There's still some oil by the old elm tree, and a dead squirrel that I hit... But if I hadn't left, I would've struck you dead, so I took a ride instead'


Lou/character confides that he hit 'a dead squirrel,' which prompts questioning and reflection by careful listeners. The lyrics suggest that Lou/character hit an already dead squirrel with his motorcycle, not an alive one. He may have 'hit' it with his tires, or -- more likely -- he wrecked (thus the 'oil by the old elm tree') THEN noticed a dead squirrel which he, in a state of angst, punched with his fist.

Bob Dylan's album, just out, contains another great morsel of confusion. The lead-off 'Thunder on the Mountain' features the following in its second verse:

'I was thinkin' 'bout Alicia Keys, couldn't keep from crying... When she was born in Hell's Kitchen, I was living down the line.
I'm wondering where in the world Alicia Keys could be... I been looking for her even clear through Tennessee'

It's humorous, inventive and misguided. Ms Keys actually was born in Harlem, but raised in Hell's Kitchen. She's never lived in Tennessee. Bob did the math and noted he was living downtown when Ms Keys was born way uptown. But why bring it up in the second stanza of your first studio album since 9/11? The inclusion of Ms Keys, paired with Tennessee, in lyric deserves something. So the FBO awards Bob Dylan a 'Ribbon for Confusion Lyrical Merit'.

POLL QUESTION: Do you think Lou Reed punched a dead squirrel, ran over a dead squirrel or ran over a live squirrel that died shortly thereafter?


FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- Seattle, WA

10 comments:

Failed Bands of Oklahoma said...

We at FBO's mobile HQ firmly believe -- without doubt -- that Lou Reed punched (with his right fist) a dead squirrel that he may or may not have fun over with his motorcycle before he wrecked by a New Jersey elm tree. HOW the squirrel died is irrevelant.

The FBO would also like to point out that New Jersey is on the FBO 'watch list' (like North Carolina) for US state showing reckless regard to its visitors.

Waska the Rocker said...

I believe that he hit it with his motorcycle out of frustration with his bitch (the "you" mentioned in the song), which resulted in the wreck. After 30 minutes of bandages and CPR, he couldn't save the poor squirrel. Though he did punch the dead squirrel in an attempt to get it's heart started again, shouting "Breathe damn you! Breathe!".

Stricken with grief over his actions, he then went home and smacked his bitch.

Bronc said...

I tend to believe that Lou Reed karate chopped the already dead squirrel, although Mr. Rocker makes a good argument.

In either event, I think that it is a given that he smacked his bitch afterwards.

Trott said...

"a dead squirrel that I hit..." All the presented options are wrong. He's not even speaking in the past tense. He's talking about a squirrel that, as he sings, he hits--likely with a bat not mentioned in the lyrics.

So good to be out of that fucking penalty box...

Failed Bands of Oklahoma said...

Trott gets another 20 minutes in the box.

Failed Bands of Oklahoma said...

It's decided then: Lou Reed indeed PUNCHED AN ALREADY DEAD SQUIRREL. Another question answered by FBO in its ongoing efforts for civic enhancement...

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